The Illustrated Man’s Blog

From time to time, I’ve been known to complain that the craft of illustration is largely missing in action on the Web. It’s not that there’s no illustration out there, because some truly talented illustrators have embraced the Internet and done very well establishing themselves. It᾿s just that the art form isn᾿t nearly as prevalent as it should be; the practitioners of the craft that have come online are, by and large, promoting their services for other media. Work that’s been commissioned and produced exclusively for the Web is few and far between.

I should talk, right? There’s practically zero illustration anywhere on Even if you count the oversize image of Mister President at the top of the home page as a photographic illustration (which is stretching it), it would still be less than what could be there. I originally designed that marquee area to be a showcase for my drawings, but I quickly realized that my ability to create pictures by hand is in a state of arrested development — it’s been far too long since I’ve done it seriously enough to be able to produce anything satisfactory when I sit down with a pencil and a blank sheet of paper. That’s something that I need to resolve, but not today.

Instead, I have another solution: with this post, I’m introducing illustrations for each of the past six months of my archives created by an esteemed colleague, and going forward, I’ll be posting a new illustration after the close of each month. It’s a little showcase I’ve been calling “Illustrate Me.” You can see it right now by starting at last month’s archive page and working your way backwards to November 2005.

The People Responsible

For this first debut, I’ve tapped several of my online acquaintances, though only a few of them are illustrators by trade. There are two reasons for this: first, as a consequence of working in a medium where not that many illustrations are ever commissioned, I barely know any illustrators.

The second reason is that, in some sense, I don’t think illustration should be left solely to the illustrators. To be sure, few of us who call ourselves designers will ever be able to make a living selling any illustration work we manage to turn out — we’ll just never be as good as someone who does it every day, and even then, it’s a completely different skill set — but I think that we would benefit substantially from thinking like illustrators more often, from problem solving in a purely pictorial mode, without the encumbrances of layout, typography, legibility, usability, etc.

At any rate, I’m very proud to have been able to pull together these six tremendously talented designers and illustrators:

As each illustration rolled in, I felt a bit like a kid on Christmas morning; I was completely delighted by the variety of expressions that these folks produced, and it just felt good to be looking at entertaining pictures. So I can’t thank these people enough for getting this going, offering up their time and creative energy selflessly to this modest little brainstorm I had. Suffice it to say, without them, this would have been yet another idea on my huge scrap heap of unfinished ideas.

If you like what you see here and you aren’t already familiar with these folks, please stop by their respective Web sites and let them know how much you like their work. And if you’re the illustrating type, and you want to take a crack at a future piece for these archives, please drop me a line — I’ve got plenty of slots available, and we can always use more illustration on the Web.

  1. I know someone (hint: me) who will looking forward to the end of each month !
    Great idea, Khoi – and thumbs up to the illustrators.

  2. As someone who has just commissioned quite a lot of illustration work for a new website, I say hear hear! The more the web starts learning from print the better, I always like the way A List Apart makes use of illustration, I hope more follow suit.

  3. Khoi, hate to get a shameless plug in here (at least it’s not for myself). Grainne Finn is an Irish illustrator who I feel has a unique talent, you should contact her. Worth checking out for the titles alone. And I agree on the use of illustration —аI think it’s something we’ve got past in print and we need to do some catching up online.

Thank you! Your remarks have been sent to Khoi.